Motorola's Droid Razr Impresses, but Faces Crowded Marketplace

Motorola's Droid Razr has impressed critics, but will need to fight its own way in a marketplace crowded with the likes of Apple's iPhone 4S.

Motorola's Droid Razr offers some powerful hardware for an Android smartphone, but the ultra-thin device faces some significant competition this holiday season.

It features Android 2.3.5 (the latest update to the Gingerbread build), paired with a 1.2GHz processor and 1GB of LP DDR2 RAM. The smartphone-which is also speedy, thanks to support for Verizon Wireless' 4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE) network, and ultra-thin at 0.28 inches-is a formidable participant in the mobile arena.

That slimness is a clear selling point. According to teardown service iFixit, the Droid Razr is "clearly thinner than the iPhone 4S" but "sports a much larger footprint that may make operating the phone difficult" for smaller hands. That larger footprint was a side effect of Motorola needing to squeeze the smartphone's hardware into the thinner form-factor.

At $299.99, the Droid Razr qualifies as a pricey device, especially in comparison with the iPhone 4S at $199. Verizon Wireless and Motorola Mobility are clearly betting that cutting-edge design and network speed will nonetheless draw customers. (It scored high marks in eWEEK's review.)

For those customer dollars, the Droid Razr faces the iPhone 4S, Apple's latest upgrade to its popular smartphone line. In addition to some upgraded hardware, including Apple's proprietary A5 processor, the latter device boasts the new iOS 5 operating system and Siri, a "personal digital assistant."

In place of Siri, the Droid Razr relies on "Smart Actions," which allows its users to create rules that trigger certain actions, such as turning off power-draining features to preserve a low battery. It will launch a news widget in the morning or Google Maps in the user's car.

Motorola's next-best hope must also contend with a Microsoft determined to push its upgraded Windows Phone devices to both businesses and consumers. That upgrade, "Mango," gives the Windows Phone platform hundreds of new tweaks and features. In addition, Nokia and a host of hardware partners are preparing Windows Phone devices with high-end hardware and sleek design, which could finally draw attention to a platform whose market share has languished to this point.

Plus the Droid Razr must compete with the legions of Android smartphones taking up space in stores, including previous members of the Droid family. The sheer proliferation of those devices could make it difficult for any new smartphone-much less one boasting new hardware-to carve out a space for itself.

The Droid Razr is a massive evolutionary step over the original Droid launched in the fall of 2009. But since that time, the smartphone market has become even more crowded, and infinitely more advanced. Even a state-of-the-art device faces a battle for adoption.

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